The Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr Ojo Olatunde has called for creation of a curriculum on legislative studies, which will be separate from political science, in the country’s tertiary institutions.
Olatunde made the call on Friday in Abuja, at the 2020 Policy Legislative Internship Programme on “A Model Legislative Assembly”, organised by Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC).
He underscored the need to continuously educate young Nigerians on the workings of the legislative arm of government, adding that the initiation of such a curriculum on legislative studies would be helpful in that kind of education.
Olatunde, who was represented by Mr Adesoro Austen, his Special Adviser on Media and Labour, urged relevant statutory bodies in the country to work concertedly towards the creation of the curriculum.
He also urged media practitioners across the country to brace up indefatigably, as genuine partners in progress, to advance the cause of parliamentary democracy.
“In trying to report the legislature in good faith, this occasion affords the media the chance to clamour for the need for young Nigerians to expose themselves to the rudiments of committee management as it is available.
“Imperatively, activities of the legislature should be reported with professionalism and without bias.
“A case in point is the recent issue of renovation of the National Assembly, which regrettably was blown out of proportion and misconstrued by some Nigerians.
“You will agree with me that the place needed renovation since it was opened for legislative business in 1999 when the new face of democracy commenced,’’ he said.
Mr Benjamin Kalu, Spokesman for the House of Representatives, lauded PLAC for investing in youths to enable them learn about legislative workings so as to build Nigeria’s democracy.
He said that the survival of any democracy depended on the legislative arm of government, stressing the need to orientate and train youths on the importance of the legislature.
Kalu also commended PLAC for selecting 38 youths across the country for a 10-week internship programme at the National Assembly to study its workings.
He urged the interns to utilise the knowledge gained by running for political offices or serve as resource persons to help support the legislature in the future.
Mr Ketil Karlsen, Head of the Delegation, European Union in Nigeria and ECOWAS, said that a good legislature would impact positively on lives of millions of people in their day-to-day dealings.
He, however, noted that the National Assembly had passed some excellent bills which reflected the will of Nigerians.
“Like (former U.S. President) Barrack Obama once said ‘a good piece of legislature is like a good piece of music that people will say yeah, this works; this makes sense’.
“I have seen several examples of such legislations where you similarly feel and say ‘this makes sense, this works’ since I was posted to Nigeria,’’ he said.
Karlsen said that some of such bills included “the Not-Too-Young-To-Run bill, the Persons with Disabilities bill and the Violence against Persons Prohibition Bill”.
He said that legislations were about growth and rise of the people adding that “that is the essence of democracy and the very reason the EU is such a staunch supporter of democracy in Nigeria.’’
Mr Clement Nwankwo, PLAC Executive Director, said that the aim of the internship was to equip youths with the knowledge of National Assembly.
“Having served as interns, I hope you will be able to speak from an informed perspective about your perception of the National Assembly, the legislation and, indeed, your experience.
“I hope you have got that knowledge and I hope you will continue to go for more knowledge to be able to be part of discussions and respond in a way that helps us to be able to advance our democracy.
“So, you will able to educate us on how much more we need to learn and what is needed to be done,’’ he said.